Wilderness Trails

About the Signature Safaris

Our aim is to offer a truly unique and fully immersive experience. Being exposed to nature, isolated within the animal’s environment with no man-made interventions, we’re immersed into the natural world entirely reliant on ourselves.

This is not a survival story, its an awakening as to the reality of mankind within a Natural environment where we’re privileged to be on a one-to-one basis with all the elements of nature from Elephants and Lions to trees and shrubs.

Often water is the ultimate source of our journey, much as it was for our very, very distant forefathers. This signature safari series is all about taking a step back in time.
Luxuries are counted in experiences and Comfort is moderated by the encounters we have with animals without the hindrance of vehicles or fences to retreat to.

This is the ultimate South African wilderness trail!

Distance: About 100km as the crow flies We will backpack considerably further as this is a 6-day off-trail length inside the Kruger National Park hence no two routes are the same.

The bigger picture: This is the first stage of a grand trail, (divided into six legs from Crooks corner in the Northeast to Crocodile River in the Southwest a 600-kilometer off-trail walk. With two legs completed per year, the trail is completed in three years. If you get onto the first leg you will be prioritized for the remaining legs should you so choose.
Beauty: 5/5 
Wildlife: Unprecedented.
Difficulty (fitness): 8/10 (This is a challenging unsupported nature trail owing to the terrain, climate and daily distances involved. Previous experience of multi-day backpacking is essential)
Technical rating of trail: Walking is through the bush, off-trail, either on game trails or simply schlepping through the bush. It includes some river crossings and hills. But in isolation nothing that could be considered challenging compared to mountainous walking. The real challenge, however, is the continuity and lack of a defined path as we are moving through the bush off-trail without a straight path to walk along.

https://www.sanparks.org/

Crooks Corner to Vlakteplaas Ranger station

Starting on the South Africa / Mozambique/ Zimbabwe border this leg is approximately 100 km in length and is walked in six days ending at Vlakteplaas Ranger station. As with all legs you can expect to walk between 15 and 20 kilometers per day.


The emphasis of the trail is not the distance, but the exclusivity of immersing oneself in a personal and unique wilderness journey isolated from the conveniences and complexities of the modern world, exploring the rich natural flora & fauna as well as the cultural diversity of Kruger National Park. Being the only point to point route that camps off-trail this is a once ina lifetime opportunity to see nature in its elements as the early explorers of yesteryear did. We will not be sharing this journey with anyone else, only 40 guests a year walk this route, that’s less than Livingstone’s team.

A South African National Parks Honorary Rangers initiative, the trail’s theme, “follow in the footsteps of giants”, is a reflection of the rich cultural heritage of Kruger where the history of the hunters and traders of old is still palpable. We will quite literally be walking in the footsteps of the Big 5, however, unlike our hunter predecessors, we will not be shooting animals (other than with camera).


Animal sightings are part of the experience and you share the space not only with big mammals such as lion, elephant, giraffe, and buffalo but also with a rich variety of birds, reptiles, insects and smaller species.


The walk is an unsupported backpack trail and all participants must be self-sufficient and carry their own provisions and equipment for the six days. Water is sourced from natural sources such as springs and rivers. Water filtration and purification is a necessity

Overnight spots are selected each night in suitable areas in the bush with no set campsites or ablution facilities. Participants carry their tent for safety at night – your hiking pack must fit inside the tent with you for safety from a hyena. A small fire may occasionally be lit, but it is not used for food preparation. A no-trace approach is followed, taking care not to impact on the wilderness. Gas stoves are required.

Staff:

Groups are guided by two fully qualified and experienced SANParks Ranger trails guides who provide a rich nature experience and accurate information to grow your knowledge. They are armed, but rather rely on their understanding of the animals to avoid danger and negotiate tricky situations. To increase the immersive nature the Rangers are local their forefathers having grown up in the areas.

Additionally, guests are hosted by myself and a guide colleague throughout this journey to oversee your holistic Safari from pick up to drop off and help to ensure your Safari is as immersive and enjoyable as possible. Skilled and versed in dealing with the complexities of bush life, we make yours easier.

Safety

Was (and is) an important consideration in the planning of this trail. Not only are highly skilled and experienced Trail guides utilized, but they also have the backup of the Kruger National Park Rangers in case of emergency. The guides have the ability to make contact via radio and satellite phone, should backup be needed.

Accommodation:

All accommodation will be in tents that you will be erecting and your pack must be inside the tent with you overnight. Lightweight fully enclosed (with a mosquito net) tents are a must, for guests sleeping alone a 2 man is ideal for two guests sharing a three-man is ideal. 
First Ascent Lunar and Nature Hike Mongar are perfect for 1 person tents, offering access from either side and are strong and well vented.


We will spend 4 nights in the Kruger Park rest camp public sites where there is a restaurant and shop for last-minute necessities. These will help fine-tune your set up and break down for the hike ahead. 5 nights will be sleeping in the Kruger reserve itself unfenced, sleeping in undesignated spots where we find an appropriate spot at the end of that day.

A pro tip – bring and practice sleeping with foam earplugs to drown the noise of any snorers. African nights can be very loud, not all of the natures noises are soporific

Itinerary:

LEG   1 DATE Day Activity Night # Overnight Comments Distance Time
Day 0 11 June Arrive ORTIA   Your discretion     7hours
Day 1 12 June Colelct & Drive to KNP Skukuza 1 KNP Skukuza 09:00-Drive to Kruger 450km 6hours
Day 2 13 June KNP Mopani 2 KNP Mopani RC Game Drive, Drive North 210km 7 hours
Day 3 14 June Drive to Punda Maria P Maria 3 Punda Maria Drive North briefing 130km 7hours
Day 4 15 June Hike day 1 (1)      4 camp 1   + – 18km  4 + 5hours
Day 5 16 June Hike day 2 (2)      5 camp 2   + – 20km 5 + 5 hours
Day 6 17 June Hike day 3 (3)      6 camp 3   + – 24km 6 + 5hours
Day 7 18 June Hike day 4 (4)      7 camp 4   + – 20km 5 + 5 hours
Day 8 19 June Hike day 5 (5)      8 camp 5   + – 19km 5 + 5hours
Day 9 20 June Hike day 6 P Maria 9 Punda Maria   + – 15km 7 hours
Day 10 21 June Drive to Joburg 10 Your Discretion Tour ends 18:00 550km 8hours

Food:
Whilst there may be fires, these are not to be used for cooking – all meals are planned to be prepared over a gas stove, I have found that four stoves are sufficient to cater for 6 people but such is the nature of this kind of activity that there is scope to share between us, something that is likely to be discovered on our nights coming up through the park. But everyone is responsible for bringing and preparing their own food. A menu example below but if you’re doing this hike you should be experienced and know what nutritional input: weight ratio balance you need personally.

Please ensure all required foods are purchased in advance of traveling to Kruger. Please get in touch for further information.

Porridge Oat-so-Easy sachets 9  
Cup-a-soups (Potato & Leek/Tomato/Butternut) 18  
Couscous boil in the bag 100gms dry 5  
Quinoa in a better-sealed container 5  
Noodles Ramen noodles – (not HOT!) 5  
Pasta sachets Cook-in-sauce for 2 6  
Tuna Cans 120gms cans or 90gm Sachets 5  
Freeze-dried meals Country kitchen / Original Raw food Company 6  
Salami stick 500gms 2  
Sardines cans 120gms 4  
Biltong 1 kg 2  
Raisins 100gms 7  
Fruit squares 100gms 5  
Cheese Crackers 1 box 2  
Cheese slices Parmalat 200gm 12 slices 4  
Game Energy powder sachets 12  
Rehydrate sachets 14  
Water purifying tablets 1 box 3  
Water purifying drops bottle 1 

Temperature:

It will range from 12C – 34C generally getting warm by 08:30 and hot by 11:00 night times start to cool down shortly after sunset. A lightweight warm weather sleeping bag with a temperature rating of 10 is perfect. A warm bag you won’t zip up. 
The thick foam roll mats are preferred to the inflatable ones for puncture resistance

Clothing:

Durable tear-resistant hiking clothes recommended, one light fleece / Light bush Jacket and long (or zip on) trousers for evenings. A wide-brimmed hat, or peak at the minimum, sunblock on your skin, tic and mosquito deterrent on your clothes. Supportive shoes suited to carrying a heavy pack (yours) over rough off-trail terrain.

Insects:

We will come across mosquito’s horsefly spiders scorpions solifuges and tics. Your clothes and tent should be prepared for tics

Water:

We will be sourcing water along the trail, from ground sourced water – Adequate personal water filtration and treatment is a requirement. The efficacy of Sawyer filters is highly recommended. Please ensure that you have your own personal unit. We should be carrying 3litres of water and fill up when we source water. Gravity feed filters are extremely useful at lunch and overnight stops, draining into a collapsible water container for further treatment and then distribution.

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